We read the first part of the familiar Christmas story in today’s Bible reading*. Following along with our chronological reading, we’re beginning to see the culmination of the Bible’s big story.
Joel prophesied that the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all types of people. In today’s reading, the Holy Spirit is referred to nine times! He even fills an unborn child! (Luke 1:15, 41)
In the 400-year silence between the close of the Old Testament’s narrative and today’s readings, God continued to speak to His people. Simeon hears from the Holy Spirit that he will not die until he has seen the Messiah. (Luke 2:26-27)
By reading Matthew and Luke’s accounts together, we get the full picture of the familiar Christmas story. If we were to read only Luke, we would only know about the shepherds’ encounter with the army of angels, leading them to Bethlehem. Tomorrow, we’ll read about the Magi’s arrival from the East.
I’ve pointed out in sermons in the past that Zechariah and Mary’s response to their angelic visitors sounds similar. So why would Zechariah be struck dumb and Mary be praised for their responses?
“How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel.
“For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.”
Luke 1:18 (CSB)
Mary asked the angel, “How can this be, since I have not had sexual relations with a man?”
Luke 1:34 (CSB)
Did you catch that? Zechariah asked for proof. Mary asked for an explanation. Zechariah is rebuked for his unbelief in Luke 1:20. Mary, on the other hand, simply replied, “May it happen to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38 CSB)
Zechariah expresses doubt. Mary expresses faith.
As you read your Bible, you may encounter challenging words. You may encounter things that are difficult to believe. For example, we encounter the creation of the universe out of nothing, a worldwide flood, many miracles, a talking donkey, and today, we encountered an immaculate conception.
Instead of tossing out what you’re reading as “fake news”, accept what you see for what it says. It’s ok to ask for an explanation. Just remember to not ask for proof.
Respond in faith.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
Talk It Over